Tibetan Partridges

Tibetan Partridges (Perdix hodgsoniae)

The Tibetan Partridges Perdix hodgsoniae breeds on the Tibetan plateau in Tibet itself, Northern Pakistan via Kashmir onto northwestern India, northern parts of Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan, and western China.

Flock of Tibetan Partridges in the Snow
Flock of Tibetan Partridges in the Snow

It is found on mountain slopes and high meadows with some Rhododendron bushes, dwarf Juniper, or other scrubs for cover, typically between 3,600 – 4,250 m (11,800 – 14,000 ft). It is a non-migratory terrestrial species but moves downhill to high desert plains in winter, and may ascend to the snowline in summer.

The nest is a grass-lined depression next to a boulder or scrub, and the typical clutch is 8-10 brownish-buff eggs. The Tibetan Partridge forms flocks of 10-15 birds outside the breeding season, which tend to run rather than fly. When disturbed sufficiently, like most of the gamebirds it flies a short distance on rounded wings, the flock scattering noisily in all directions before gliding downhill to regroup.

It is somewhat different in appearance from the other Perdix species, the Grey and Daurian Partridges. It is 28-31 cm long and shares its brown back, blackish belly patch, and chestnut flanks with its relatives, but has a striking black and white face pattern, which contrasts with the rufous nape.

The breast and flanks are white, heavily barred with black and chestnut, and the lower belly is white. Despite its striking appearance, the head and breast pattern provide good cryptic camouflage in its rocky habitat.

Tibetan Partridge Standing Alone
Tibetan Partridge Standing Alone

The female is similar to the male but duller, and the juvenile is a featureless buff-brown, lacking the distinctive facial and underpart markings of the adult. There are three subspecies differing mainly in the plumage becoming darker further east.

The male’s song, usually given from a boulder, is a rattling scherrrrreck- scherrrrreck , and the flight call is a shrill chee chee chee.

This is a seed-eating species, but the young in particular take insects as an essential protein supply.

Tibetan Partridges is not globally threatened and seems secure in its extensive and often inaccessible range on the Tibetan plateau.

The scientific name commemorates English civil servant, ethnologist, and naturalist Brian Houghton Hodgson.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button